Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Concerning Wegman's

For lo these many years, longing for Wegman's has been the emotional state that distinguishes those raised in, or educated in, upstate New York. When my daughter first went to college there, it was over two semesters before I got a hint what this was about. We asked and she brought us there.

For lunch: a good lunch. This would make perfect sense if one did not know that Wegman's is a supermarket. A huge supermarket. A squeaky-clean supermarket with employees who look like they enjoy their work, and good groceries at reasonable prices. In upstate New York's larger college towns, students hardly have to leave their Wegman's except to attend class. Some hardly do.

From the time I saw the Ithaca Wegman's, I knew New England supermarkets were in deep shit if the New Yorkers brought their concept here. They have and they are.

The first one is in Northborough, MA, and that's the worst I can say about it. The location is cool if you live anywhere from Framingham due west to Worcester, unless you're westbound on Route 9 and have to do a five-mile u-turn to get to the exit. Also it's over ten miles from the nearest college, so unlike the New York uber stores, the Northborough one isn't open 24 hours a day.

In their native habitat, Wegman's stores come in a variety of sizes, from maybe Super Stop & Shop size to something about the size of a small New England town. (When my kid was in grad school in Rochester, she and her peeps varied their shopping to take advantage of this variety. She also swears there's nothing in CA to match it.)

The Northborough store falls into the small town category. Just for starters, it has a produce section nearly as large as the whole Salem Market Basket: large, fresh, varied. Excellent meat and produce section...even fish...although I'm the sort of seafood snob who thinks Northborough is too far inland for fresh fish.

The typical giant Wegman's has at least two delis: one or more for the deli food you're going to eat in the on-site restaurant (unless you go for Italian, Asian or vegetarian, each of which has a separate line) and one for take-home. And, oh yes, there are groceries of the more conventional sort, all reasonably priced. Obviously, the profits here are in volume.

And, OMFG, there's a package store! It's bigger than the best packy in my area. I can only suppose this happens in Northborough because there isn't a lot else of the sort out there.

So, now when the kid comes home, she won't have to drive to Syracuse to satisfy her yen for a Wegman's sub. Word is the chain is eyeing a Chestnut Hill location for the next MA store. This may be one of the normal-supermarket size ones, so the process bears watching. If you're a stubborn New Englander who insists that supermarkets must smell like country stores, you may not like Wegman's. If you want to see what this business can really be, you will.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Well, isn't that interesting.

Over the last eight days, the score is Beast 6, me 2. Good news is that I've still had only one episode a day. The bad news is that the symptoms are definitely changing and not for the better.

For one thing, I've come to appreciate the clinical description, "lancinating pain." I still think it is not so much an electric shock sensation as it is that of having a nail driven into one's head at three-second intervals. I've had electric shocks and nails driven into my limbs during my career as clumsy do-it-yourselfer, so I have a basis of comparison.

For another, the distribution of pain can be different and random. I had one episode in which the pain concentrated in the temporal region and grew more intense, instead of diffusing. This would be fine except that the pain level was in the 7s and approaching 8. In another, at the same level the pain appeared in the Gasserian ganglion and diffused downward into the trigeminal root, the main highway of the nerve to the spinal cord. This used to happen before we had properly adjusted my meds,, but not since. Pain in the root is rather unique.
Otherwise it's been same old same old.

The adventure continues.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Quick comments

OK, the Beast has been winning this week. Things have been shifting over the last couple of years from triggers fired off by cold breezes to triggers fired off by chewing.

Before Tegretol, people starved to death from trigeminal neuralgia. I begin to understand that. It's tough enough when you have drugs that take the worst edge off it. Tonight I tried eating: bad idea.

And of course, I have to go pretend to have a good time at Christmas festivities.
Let's hear it for egg nog.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

TN notes 2011

As with some similar items in the past, this one is mostly for me, and interested parties, to track the progress of my trigeminal neuralgia.

This year, the preliminaries have been different. Beginning in August or so, I experienced the usual warning pains pretty regularly, at a 2-3 level*. Now, however, I'm getting isolated stabs usually associated with Typical TN. That is, there would be a sudden attack of lancinating pain that lasted a few seconds, then subsided. This would happen one or twice a day, twice a week to start with, more often as fall went on. No doubt a relatively mild fall has helped. These attacks were confined to my chief trigger location in the temporal branch of the nerve. Probably about 4-5 on the pain scale, though they never lasted as much as 30 minutes. Had they done so, I'd rate them higher. Responded well to 0.5 mg of Clonazepam (I've left the 0.25mg dose far behind).

The first real episode as I've known them before was Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. This was the first to follow my past pattern, with initial pain descending the temporal branch to the Gasserian ganglion, but no further. This reached a 7. Since I had the day off, I was able to retreat to bed. Required 1.0 mg of Clonazepam to get the Beast caged. For the next fortnight, it rattled the bars more insistently, with the isolated attacks. I've begun all the defence mechanisms--spending most of my time indoors, being careful what and how much I eat, drinking little, etc.

Yesterday (12/9) a full-blown episode appeared, inconveniently, at work. By full blown I mean the attacks repeated about once every 10 to 15 seconds, blowing past the Gasserian ganglion, descending the maxillary and mandibular branches, and threatening the trigeminal stem. Pain level 7 to 7-plus. I weighed up pain vs disorientation and went with the latter, taking 0.5mg Clonazepam. I figured--correctly--that this would contain the breakthrough whilst allowing me to function, since this was a half-day. The pain returned at home as the Clonazepam wore off. Took another and spent most of the afternoon in bed.

Before last winter, one benefit of Clonazepam had been that while it sometimes took as long to contain breakthroughs as breakthroughs naturally lasted (30-45 minutes), the drug left one fairly pain-free. Last winter, this often didn't happen, and so far it's not happening now. My exacerbations, untreated, are followed by a pain hangover lasting hours, usually until the next episode. It's much the same with Clonazepam now. One drops from a pain level of 7 to a 3, but one is only pain-free when asleep. Sleep usually resets the dial, and the day starts, at least, with little or no pain.

At any rate, the Beast is getting out of hand again, pretty much on schedule. This is a fascinating disorder. It helps to catalogue the signs and symptoms, because I'm long past the point where whining about it does anything useful.

As a side note, I was a skeptic about "seasonal affective disorder" almost since they named it. The coincidence of short dark days with my dueling this nasty disorder may alone account for my black moods, but I'm willing to be open-minded now about SAD.

*Note: one measurement most pain scales apply is whether NSAIDs and other mild analgesics relieve pain at a given level. When applying the scales to TN, it's well to remember that NSAIDs bounce off it like cannon balls off Old Ironsides, and that opiates might as well be sugar pills for all the good they do. Even Clonazepam's benefits have a predictable lifespan, as do those of the other mainstays I take, Tegretol and Neurontin.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

This n that

The most interesting part of the Cain "suspension" announcement was the view of his wife in the background. That brief flash of teeth wasn't a "good wife" smile, I think. That was the smile of a woman who now has her husband's cojones in a lock box.

Loved Jeff Jacoby on what a nasty man Barney Frank is. Once again, when reactionaries turn crybaby, I'm reminded of an old playground taunt: "you can dish it out, but you can't take it." Barney certainly dished it out, but he could always take it.

Note to Bob Kraft. Now do you see why it would have been smart to help Foxboro get its electricity back at the same time you got the juice on at the stadium after Irene etc.? If Greater Boston is going to have one of these damfool things, I'd like it at Suffolk Downs. Get all the yeggs in one basket, you might say. The neighbourhood can't get any worse, and everyone already has a talent for dodging bullets.